Rescuers Begin ‘Challenging’ Final Push To Free Last 5 From Thai Cave

Thai Navy divers in Tham Luang cave during rescue operations for the 12 boys and their football team coach trapped in the cave at Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park in the Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai province./ AFP
 
The first eight boys rescued from a Thai cave complex are in good health overall and some asked for chocolate bread for breakfast, officials said on Tuesday as rescuers began a third and more challenging final mission to free the remaining five.
“At this moment (there are) no worrisome conditions, everyone is safe,” Jesada Chokdamrongsuk, Thailand’s health ministry permanent secretary, told reporters.
Two of the boys had suspected lung infections but the four boys from the first group rescued were all walking around their hospital beds.
“The kids are footballers, are strong and have high immunity,” Jesada said when asked why they survived so long.
The boys had a good appetite but were mainly being given bland, easily digestible foods. However, doctors later relented after some of the boys asked for bread with chocolate topping.
They are still being quarantined from their parents because of the risk of infection and would likely be kept in hospital for a week to undergo tests, officials said.
Four more of the boys were carried on stretchers out of the labyrinthine Tham Luang cave on the Myanmar border at dusk on Monday, bringing to eight the number brought out so far after two rescue pushes on successive days.
The head of the operation, Narongsak Osottanakorn, said a final operation would be “more challenging” because one more survivor would be brought out than the previous two operations, along with three Navy SEALs who have been accompanying them.
The rescuers have been learning from experience and were two hours faster in bringing the second batch of survivors out on Monday. However, scattered monsoon rains continued to risk percolating through the limestone cave walls to flood the tunnels with water.
“I hope today we will be faster or the same speed as yesterday,” Narongsak said.
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